Moscow revisits the loss of Makievka as Kyiv announces more Russian dead
Russia’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday revised the death toll from the latest Ukrainian missile strike to 89, blaming the illegal use of mobile phones by its soldiers for the attack.
Moscow said earlier that 63 Russian soldiers were killed in the attack, which took place at the weekend. The ministry’s response came amid mounting anger among some Russian commentators, who are increasingly vocal about what they see as a half-hearted crackdown in Ukraine.
Most of the anger on social media was directed at military leaders and not Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has not publicly commented on the attack, which was another blow after a major battlefield withdrawal in recent months.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said four Ukrainian missiles hit a temporary Russian barracks at a vocational college in Makevka, the twin city of the Russian-occupied regional capital of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.
The ministry said that although an official investigation had been launched, the main reason for the attack was the illegal mass use of mobile phones by military personnel.
“This factor allowed the enemy to track and locate the coordinates of the soldiers’ positions for a missile strike,” it said in a statement released after 1 a.m. (10 p.m. GMT Tuesday) on Wednesday.
However, Semyon Pegov, a prominent Russian war correspondent who Putin awarded the Order of Courage in late 2022, has questioned the ministry’s reasoning.
In a message on Telegram, Pegov said Ukraine would have been able to locate troops via drones and intelligence, not necessarily through cell phones.
“The cellphone story isn’t very compelling,” said Pegov. “I rarely say this—but this is the case when it would probably be best to remain silent, at least until the end of the investigation. As such it appears to be an outright attempt to assign blame.”
Pegov also said that the number of victims would rise.
“Unfortunately, their number will continue to grow. The data announced are most likely for those who were immediately identified. The list of missing persons, unfortunately, is noticeably longer. I cannot disclose the sources, but I consider them reliable.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who rarely comments on specific Ukrainian military strikes, made no mention of the attack in a video address Tuesday.
The Ukrainian military said it carried out a strike that resulted in the Russian loss of equipment and possibly personnel near Makevka. But she did not give more details.
Russian nationalist bloggers and some pro-Russian officials in the area have put the death toll in Makeyevka in the hundreds, although some say these estimates are exaggerated.
More victims in Moscow
Earlier Tuesday, Kyiv reported more casualties among Russian forces as it claimed at least 500 Russian soldiers were killed and wounded in an artillery attack in the Kherson region, according to the Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA) news agency.
The Ukrainian General Staff said that “the enemy’s losses amounted to 500 dead and wounded”, in connection with the attack that took place near the village of Cholakivka on New Year’s Eve, in which its forces targeted Russian soldiers and military equipment.
The army’s figures could not be independently verified. Both sides in the war often talk about heavy losses on the other side.
The General Staff said that Russian units in the village of Fedorivka were also hit on January 1. The number of victims is still unclear.
Fedorivka and Chulakivka lie on the southeastern side of the Dnieper River in the Russian-occupied part of the Kherson region.
A major Russian offensive
Meanwhile, Zelensky of Ukraine said that Russia is preparing a major offensive.
“We have no doubt that the current masters of Russia will throw everything they have left and everyone they can gather in an attempt to change the course of the war and at least delay their defeat,” Zelensky said in a video address.
“We must disrupt this Russian scenario. We are preparing for that. The terrorists must lose. Any attempt to launch their new attack must fail,” he added.
A little-known nationalist group supporting widows of Russian soldiers has called on Putin to order a massive mobilization of millions of men and the closure of borders to ensure victory in Ukraine.
Zelensky repeated Ukrainian assurances that Moscow is planning a large-scale mobilization, a move Russian officials say is not currently being considered.
Putin was scheduled to speak with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Interfax, the latest in a series of talks the two leaders have had since the start of the war.
Turkey acted as a mediator alongside the United Nations last year to seal an agreement allowing the export of grain from Ukrainian ports, but the chances of serious peace talks seem remote, especially as fighting continues to rage.
The Ukrainian general, summarizing a call Tuesday with the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, thanked the United States for helping ensure the provision of anti-missile weapon systems that Kyiv says eliminate more and more Russian missiles targeting it. Power plants.
Zaluzhny said he discussed the equipment Ukraine needs to increase its chances against Russia, a message that senior officials have hammered out on a daily basis.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has told Zelensky that he can count on Britain’s support in the long term “as evidenced by the recent delivery of more than 1,000 anti-aircraft missiles,” Sunak’s office said Tuesday.
Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine, what he called a “special military operation”, on February 24, 2022, to deter threats to Russian security and to protect Russian speakers. Ukraine and its allies accuse Moscow of unjustified imperial-style land grabs.
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said on Wednesday that Russia launched seven missile strikes, 18 air strikes and more than 85 attacks from multiple launch missile systems in the past 24 hours on civilian infrastructure in three cities, Kramatorsk, Zaporizhia and Kherson.
“There are civilian casualties,” she added. Russia denies targeting civilians.